Systemic Change

07-08-2021 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders

07-08-2021 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders 200 200 SVDP USA

Our Conference tried an experiment two weeks ago.

There are several extended stay hotels in our service area. None would get many positive reviews on travel web sites. Last year, about 11% of our funds went to these emergency housing options. Our goal was to find a way to get more folks out of that situation into one that offered more financial stability.

We found a staffing company offering about $12-15 an hour for warehouse work. The advantage to partnering with this particular company was that they could provide transportation if we could find enough employees living in proximity to each other. Check.

So, we slid flyers under doors, brought snacks, and waited in the lobby for the entire hotel to come and apply for jobs. One person came. And, unfortunately, that person was there for the snacks.

Although this first attempt was a failure, we all agreed to try again. We are going to have to work harder at getting these folks to see themselves in roles that may never have seen themselves in. Or at least they haven’t seen themselves in lately. We must work to give them more hope. And, hope is not easy to develop during a brief transaction.

Years ago, I attended a workshop offered by a faculty member from The University of Oklahoma Hope Research Center.  They use this for a working definition:

Hope is the belief that the future will be better and you have the power to make it so. Hope is based on three main ideas: desirable goals, pathways to goal attainment, and agency (willpower) to pursue those pathways.  (Emphasis added.)

Almost every person I visit in my SVdP service has an incredible optimism about the future. “I’m hoping to get more hours next month…”  “My sister should be able to lend me money…”

I’m sure you have heard this as well. But, all too often, these resources don’t come through and they are back asking us for help.

It’s those last two characteristics of hope that are lacking in many of our neighbors in need. They need more reliable pathways to stability and agency to pursue those pathways.

In a recent FAMVIN column, Fr. John Freund related a story told by Shelia Gilbert, our past SVdP President. When you first put a grasshopper in a jar, they frantically jump to get out. As they continue to hit their heads against the top, they slow down. Until they finally give up.

People who have been in need for a short time might still be wildly jumping and hoping that things will change. The longer they keep hitting their heads against job loss, housing expenses, and the other “jar lids” that keep them down, the less hope they might have. Until, eventually, they have give up and accept their situation.

Dr. Donna Beegle, a national poverty expert, who wrote the introduction to poverty material we use in The Society (If Not Me, Then Who?)went on Home Visits when she was developing the material. She told me, after that experience, that she would wait until the Vincentians would finish all the qualifying questions about budget, jobs, etc.. She would then ask the neighbor, “What are your hopes and dreams?” Just that simple. And then the interview would take off.

Our work, in this hotel project, will be to help more people see themselves as capable, to restore their vision of the future and accompany them on their “pathway to goal attainment.” The first mistake we made, as do many that attempt systemic change projects, is that we didn’t spend time asking the people what they needed. Did they need jobs? What are their hopes and dreams?

We aren’t trying to get them jobs. We are trying to restore their hope.

Sincerely,
Jack Murphy
National Chair, Systemic Change and Advocacy

 

 

05-20-2021 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders

05-20-2021 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders 600 685 SVDP USA

Dear Vincentian Friends,

This Sunday we celebrate the feast of Pentecost. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul has always had a special devotion to the Holy Spirit. We begin many of our meetings with this familiar prayer: “Come, Holy Spirit, live within our lives, and strengthen us by your love. Send forth your Spirit, and new life will be created. And the whole face of the earth shall be renewed.”

Emmanuel Bailly led our founders in a similar prayer at their first meeting in his newspaper office in 1833. The main difference was that they prayed it in Latin.

Since our founding, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul has relied upon the Holy Spirit to guide our journey. For the past 188 years we have been asking the Holy Spirit to live within us and strengthen us. We need this loving grace every time we go on our home visits and whenever we work to lift someone out of poverty. Those of us in Servant Leadership positions must ask for such grace regularly. We pray for the new life the Spirit creates, and we await the renewal of the world that this new life brings.

Change is never easy. So why do we pray for it almost every time we meet? Do we really want the whole face of the earth to be renewed? Most of us are pretty comfortable with how things are now. Sure, we are committed to creating a more just society, ending racism and eliminating poverty, but couldn’t we do that without the disrupting the whole face of the earth?

This past year has illustrated that many of the problems with which we have struggled during the pandemic are systemic. Disparities in healthcare, lack of affordable childcare, challenges of workplace safety, difficulty in accessing education – to name just some systemically rooted problems – have all caused extra hardship in the past year. Added to these difficulties, we have had to face the issue of how racism multiplies suffering in many communities.

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul has been talking about the need for systemic change for several years. That desire to renew this world is what inspired our founder Blessed Frederic Ozanam to envision the establishment of a network of charity and social justice encircling the world. We are heirs to that vision.

I appreciate all the resources that have been provided virtually during the past year by our Voice of the Poor Committee and by our Multicultural and Diversity Committee. Each group has helped us focus on these systemic issues. As we come out of this period of isolation, we need to commit to actions that will transform systems that enshrine injustice or promote disparity.

I don’t think it is possible to significantly reform these systems without the Holy Spirit renewing the whole face of the earth. I also believe that change starts with us as individuals. I will need to discover the changes I need to make to participate in a community that is loving and just. As our Rule states, we are journeying together toward holiness. So, this Pentecost, let’s keep praying, “Holy Spirit, live within our lives, and strengthen us by your love.”

Serviens in spe,
Ralph Middlecamp
SVdP National President

SVdP National Council Welcomes Associate Director of Poverty Programs / Director of Immersion Program

SVdP National Council Welcomes Associate Director of Poverty Programs / Director of Immersion Program 300 307 SVDP USA

The National Council of the United States Society of St. Vincent de Paul is excited to welcome Heather Fullerton as the new Associate Director of Poverty Programs / Director of Immersion Program.

Heather will work collaboratively with Councils and Conferences to enhance and expand the Society’s Systemic Change programming, with a particular focus on Immersion, the Society’s national reentry program, and Back2Work, the national workforce development program.

Heather earned her bachelor’s degree in Science Education from the University of Missouri – Columbia and her master’s degree in School Administration from Lindenwood University.

For the past 15 years, Heather has used her skills as an educator and nonprofit manager to create equitable systems in which all people flourish by training and coaching others to build capacity.

As a teacher, Heather earned National Board Certification for excellence in innovative teaching.

Heather lives in St. Louis with her husband Joshua and their children Camille and Christian. They have a Dalmatian mix named Uno. In her free time, Heather enjoys sewing, gardening, and playing video games with her family.

“I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to serve alongside the National Council Staff,” said Heather. “I can’t wait to collaborate with this family of passionate, talented, and faithful individuals. Thank you for welcoming me with such open arms!”

Welcome Heather!

If you’d like to contact Heather, she can be reached at (314) 576-3993 ext. 217 or by email at hfullerton@svdpusa.org.

2021 Midyear Meeting

Midyear Meeting Wrapup

Midyear Meeting Wrapup 1916 1030 SVDP USA

Thank you to everyone who attended this year’s 2021 Virtual Midyear Business Meeting. We hope you found it both educational and spiritually uplifting. We’ll be sending out a survey soon for your input, suggestions, and feedback for the Meeting.

Those attendees who chose VIP Registration will receive a copy of the Society’s 175th Anniversary Book and a Commemorative Coin, shipping from our store in the next week. If you didn’t choose VIP registration, you may still order either the book, the coin, or a set of both. The book expands upon Ray Sickinger’s excellent presentation on the history of the Society in the United States, and is a must-read.

Presentation Links

If you were unable to attend a session, or would like to watch it again, here are links to the program recordings:

General Sessions
Spirituality
Governance
Programming
Business 
Thrift Stores 

Exhibitor Showcase

If you were not able to attend the Exhibitor Showcase, links and contact information for each vendor presentation can be found below. We hope you enjoy visiting with our vendors and that you’ll follow-up with them and help grow the Society’s partnership with our National Partners and Exhibitors.

Click the links below to view each presentation, or to email the vendor directly, click on their name:

2021 National Assembly

Mark your calendars for our 2021 National Assembly at the Marriott Marquis in Houston, Texas, August 25 – 29, 2021. We hope to see you there! For those who are not yet comfortable travelling, there will be  a hybrid component to the National Assembly so that those at home can still be part of the gathering.

 

Sign Up for Our Newsletter

    Skip to content